What Stockton needs to do to operate Animal Services lawfully

This is long and technical, but this is it. This is what Stockton needs to do to operate in compliance with state law and its own Municipal Code. We’re ready to help, including but not limited to helping with fundraising/grantwriting, organizational and leadership development, and volunteer recruitment, training, and supervision. We, and the animals, await Stockton’s decision.

Compliance with California and Stockton Shelter Animal Laws:

(1) The shelter will hold all stray animals whose owners are known for seven days, not including the day of impoundment (Stockton Municipal Code Section 6.04.250(b)). “Known owner” will mean an owner whose identity is known or is reasonably ascertainable, as when the animal has a microchip, license tag, or rabies tag.

(2) The shelter will hold all stray animals whose owners are unknown for a minimum of six business days, not including the day of impoundment. If the animal has been made available for owner redemption on one weekday evening until at least 7pm, or one weekend day, the shelter will hold the animal for four business days, not including the day of impoundment (Stockton Municipal Code Section 6.04.250(a)). Saturday is not considered a business day, unless the shelter is open to the public for adoption and owner redemption for at least four hours (Food & Agricultural Code Section 31108(d)). These holding periods apply equally to stray animals that are turned in to the shelter over the counter.

(3) The shelter will hold all animals surrendered by a purported owner for the same holding periods, and with the same requirements of care, applicable to stray dogs and cats (Food & Agricultural Code Section 31754).

(4) The shelter will not euthanize any animal during its holding period, with the following three exceptions:

(a) The animal is irremediably suffering from severe illness or injury (Food & Agricultural Code Section 17006).

(b) The animal is an unweaned infant that has been impounded without its mother (Food & Agricultural Code Section 17006).

(c) The animal is a dog that has been documented and declared vicious prior to arriving at the shelter (Food & Agricultural Code Sections 31108.5(b) and 31645 and Stockton Municipal Code Section 6.08.100).

(5) The shelter will not euthanize dogs and cats during their holding period for any other reason, including, but not limited to, being classified as old, aged, fearful, aggressive, feral, unweaned (but impounded with its mother), sick (but not irremediably suffering), or failing a temperament test or being the subject of an owner-relinquishment agreement or at the request of the possessor turning in the animal (Food & Agricultural Code Sections 31752, 31108, 31754, 17006, and 31108.5(b)).

(6) The stipulated definition of “irremediably suffering” is the following:

An “irremediably suffering” animal is an animal with a medical condition that has a poor or grave prognosis for being able to live without severe, unremitting pain, despite necessary veterinary care.

“Irremediable suffering” may include: end-stage renal failure, panleukopenia (feline distemper) in kittens, canine parvovirus in puppies, severe blood loss, unconsciousness, severe head trauma, and unmanageable pain.

None of the following symptoms, standing alone, constitute “irremediable suffering”: diarrhea, vomiting, skin conditions such as ringworm or mange, ocular infection or conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, coughing or gagging, labored respiration that can be stabilized, and arthritis or weakness. A combination of any of these symptoms is not necessarily “irremediable suffering” unless the animal cannot live without severe, unremitting pain despite necessary veterinary care. (Teutle v. City of Palm Springs, INC1103235; A Dog’s Life Rescue v. County of Los Angeles, BC 357617; Nguyen v. County of Los Angeles, BS 112581)

(7) The shelter will not offer euthanasia as a service to the community by accepting animals from purported owners for the sole purpose of killing them, without any effort to place them for adoption (Civil Code Section 1834.4, Penal Code Section 599d, Food & Agricultural Code Section 17005; Lock v. County of Kern, S-1500-CV-254024; McLellan v. County of Mendocino, SCUK-CVPT-07-99258; A Dog’s Life Rescue v. County of Los Angeles, BC 357617).

(8) The shelter will extend the holding periods of all impounded animals to the extent that kennel space is available and the overall health and safety of impounded animals is not affected, in order to permit the public as much time as possible to retrieve or adopt animals (Stockton Municipal Code Section 6.04.250(c)).

(9) The shelter will release any animal to any statutorily authorized rescue group that requests the animal before it is euthanized (Food & Agricultural Code Sections 31108(b) and  31752(b)). The shelter will have no policies or practices that obstruct or restrict the release of such animals and will not euthanize any animal when it is known that rescue is available.

(10) The shelter will obey all statutes of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act (Business & Professions Code 4826 et seq). No laypersons will practice veterinary medicine at the shelter (Business & Professions Code Section 4825). No persons other than licensed veterinarians will make medical diagnoses or prognoses at the shelter (Business & Professions Code Section 4840.2, 4825.1(a) and 4840(a)).

(11) The shelter will provide necessary and prompt veterinary care to all ill or injured animals, unless and until the animal is lawfully euthanized (Civil Code Sections 1834, 1846 and 2080; California Commission on State Mandates, CSM 98-TC-11). Additionally, the shelter will have any injured animal conveyed immediately to a veterinarian (Penal Code Sections 597.1(c) and 597f(b)).

(12) The shelter will observe the spirit and purpose of the minimum holding periods mandated by state and local law by giving every animal a meaningful opportunity for owner redemption or adoption. The shelter will not hold any animal available for either redemption or adoption in a segregated section of the shelter that is not readily accessible to the public.

(13) In summary, the shelter will obey all relevant statutes and local ordinances and will, as a result, emphasize adoption and redemption over killing. The shelter will cease to abuse and misspend public funds by operating the facility in a manner contrary to local and state law, by failing to perform its duties as mandated by law, and by disregarding its statutory obligation to promote life-saving alternatives to killing.

More explanation and analysis is here: http://centralcaliforniapetsalive.org/#HoldingPeriods

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4 Responses to What Stockton needs to do to operate Animal Services lawfully

  1. teenieteenez says:

    Aren’t several of these laws currently being broken? Are these only for shelters who agree to some sort of No Kill clause or are they standard for any/all shelter?

  2. Stockton is currently out of compliance with all of these, and they are state law and Stockton Municipal Code. State law applies to every animal control shelter in the state, and Stockton Municipal Code applies to the Stockton pound. These are not optional for those shelters that decide to follow the No Kill Equation. These laws apply to everyone within their jurisdictions.

  3. These are all State Laws and the one running the Shelter should knows these laws by heart, so you would think. Why people get in this career if their hearts not in it beats the heck out of me. I always told new staff “if your putting an animal down due to their time is up, sick, abused or ANYTHING else and your heart doesn’t hurt/break, even a little bit and you do not feel sorry for that animal, then it’s time for you to get a different job and get out of this line of work” NO matter if you been in this career for YEARS, it should always pull the heart string and when it does not then you need to find a different job cuz that mean you are burnt out. End of story.

  4. Pingback: Here’s how you can help | Central California Pets Alive

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